By Kirstie Pike,
CEO and Founder Prois Hunting & Field Apparel for Women
It’s not often I use this platform to voice my opinions about politics or current events. Yet, when the recent case of the gorilla shot at the Cincinnati Zoo to protect a toddler who fell into the animal’s enclosure caught worldwide attention, I couldn’t help it.
My first response to this incident was, “Of course the animal had to be destroyed. It’s tragic, but the life of a small boy hung in the balance.” I for one could not sit by and watch a child potentially die at the hands of an animal. If it was my child, I can only imagine the fear. I personally feel zookeepers had no other recourse. Tranquilizing would take too long and could potentially agitate the animal further.
My second response was that it would seem the Cincinnati Zoo would need to do some serious upgrades to any enclosure into which a visitor may fall or jump. This clearly goes without saying.
However, as the story continued to unfold I found myself horrified at the state of our society. I was soon shocked (yet not totally surprised given the constant anti-hunting sentiment we receive) to see that people were protesting the killing of this gorilla. While I agree, this animal was a beautiful animal who was also caught in a situation he didn’t cause…the life of a toddler was in the balance. A rational person could not watch the video footage of the child being dragged by the gorilla through water and not think that the child was in eminent danger. However, this is what animal activists and anti-hunters do…they believe the life of an animal is more important than that of a human being. My question: could ANY of these protesters sit by and watch their own baby in the same situation and think, “This is all fine”? Doubt it. This is, unfortunately, a sad twist on society. It is one I cannot understand and it is downright scary. It means this—the very core of our society is rotting away and the value of life is diminished.
My mind then wandered to the parents who apparently didn’t notice the toddler missing or climbing into an area where he most definitely should not have been. Accidents happen and I am certain the child’s mother did not wake up that morning thinking, “I think I will let little Billy jump into a gorilla enclosure today.” I can imagine neither her fear nor her guilt. For those of us who have raised children, they are miniature Houdinis. They just are. Turn your back one minute and the wall is covered with crayon or one sibling has cut the other’s hair. (Both true in my house) While blame of this incident ultimately lies on the shoulders of the parents, this turned out to be a tragic incident and I am certain they are reliving this constantly. This seems to be punishment enough in my opinion. Apparently I was wrong.
As the days ticked by I was shocked to find out just how extensive hate runs in this society. I started seeing comments directed to the mother of the child. Here you go…Internet Mob Justice.
“that animal is more important than your s–kid” “u should’ve been shot” “you’re a really bad mother and a f-ing killer”
Want to see it turn racial? Well it did… the internet came alive with comments about how the gorilla was black, unarmed and 17. People began citing that the gorilla was killed to spare white privilege.
Internet mob justice. It took no time for internet users to blast their opinions, set up petitions, threaten the mother of this child and become experts on parenting. I watched this unfold for a while but couldn’t help feeling a sense of frustration and sadness.
There is something deeper and more fundamental at work here. The internet, while being a great tool, is also reshaping our society. Anonymity makes people bold. It takes very little to spark the internet outrage machine and what follows is a mob vengeance mentality. According to Max Fisher, “The internet mob determines the severity of a crime based on subjective factors, such as how unlikable they find the alleged criminal to be, how likable they find the victim and the degree to which the alleged crime fits into their preconceived beliefs. You’ll notice that most of these trace back not to the crime’s impact on society, but rather the degree to which punishing the crime will feel good for the punishers.”
Unfortunately, the punishers often are incapable of seeing varying opinions and facts that differ from their own. This is purely irresponsible and downright dangerous.